La Nouvelle-Orléans, also known as New Orleans is the largest city of Louisiana and it is considered one of the oldest and most unique cities in the United States. Built in the shores of the Mississippi river by a french settlement it is known for its multicultural and multilingual heritage which provided the city with a unique cuisine, architecture and musical background which is most uncommon in the United States.As you might have seen this makes the city quite an interesting place to visit, even more if you are European, since you might identify yourself with the city and its history. As we are 4 European guys on vacation this seemed as the right place to go and so we got on our 2 Cessnas and set sail to Louisiana which we reached after crossing 2 states (Florida and Alabama), flying over the Gulf of Mexico and one time zone, all that done in slightly more than 5 hours of flight. We landed on the Lakefront Airport which is quite close to the city and after getting a map and directions we jumped on a brand new Chrysler Seabring with only 200 miles and went downtown. The nicest and oldest zone of the city is Vieux Carré (French Quarter) which is the place where all the Spanish and French influence can be found. All the tourists go there and can tour around by foot checking the Voodoo stores, Jazz Cafeés or the typical architecture of the quarter.
The guys walking around the French Quarter.
New Orleans Streetcar.
Since we were hungry the first thing we did was to get inside Central Grocery, an Italian shop, to grab a Muffuletta.
Inside Central Grocery Store.
Back on track we strolled around the French Quarter, the Jackson Square and the Saint Louis Cemetery which is the oldest and most popular cemetery in New Orleans.
Jackson Square general view. Saint Louis Cathedral can be sean in the background.
General Jackson. War hero of the battle of New Orleans.
Saint Louis Cemetery.
This is a Roman Catholic Cemetery which was greatly influenced by the Spanish and French and has above ground tombs, not common to the Americans. These tombs are also above ground level due to the usual floods of the Mississippi.
Me stranded on the railroad, ready to be run over by a Streetcar.
Back on the dock it was time to grab an espresso at The Market Cafe and listen to some live Jazz (what else in the birthplace of such a beautiful music style?). We sat there for a while enjoying some well known hits like "The Girl From Ipanema" and "When The Saints Go Marching In" and my friend Nuno even bought a CD from the band. To finish up and get a broader idea of the city we got on the car and while the sun was setting we drove through the business district, through all the tall buildings and past the Louisiana Superdome, the home of "The New Orleans Saints" which is the local American football team.
General View of a business district street.
As a footnote, after the hurricane Katrina, all the people were gathered at the Superdome and an operation basis was mounted there to rescue and feed all the ones in need. After such a long touring day it was time to it the "road" and so we got back to the aeroplane and after taking care of all the paperwork, fees and doing the walkaround we were back on the air for a quite dull and uneventful flight back home. We reached Daytona Beach at 3 A.M., just in time to get the same departure controller that released our flight to New Orleans back on his workstation. He was the one who did recognize us and impressed by the late hour said:
- "Were you the guys that were heading out to New Orleans this morning?"
- Yes We were sir!
- "And did you ever make it there? I heard the wind was quite strong today..."
- Yes We did, 5 hours of flight time each way.
- Yeah, long day at the office!
After 22 hours and 30 minutes awake we finally got home almost sleepwalking. We were quite exhausted but I can assure you it was one of the best flights and adventures I have ever had and it was the longest for sure.
Regarding New Orleans, it is quite often said to be one of the poorest cities in the USA but I must tell you that is not true, the city is full of life, colour and history, it has European heritage and style and it is surely one of the most ethnic cities I've seen. On a sunny day you will surely enjoy New Orleans as I did, with its greatness and grace!